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Adventure in Sierra de San Francisco
By car: Driving in the Sierra de San Francisco requires a high-clearance vehicle; off Highway 1, most roads are dirt. Carry current vehicle registration, proof of ownership and insurance specifically for driving in Mexico. Coverage starts at about $10 per day. Check with your auto insurance company or AAA, which also sells insurance valid in Mexico. We bought policies from Discover Baja; (800) 727-2252.
A tourist card ($20) is required in Mexico. Forms may be available from your insurer or at the border.
VISITING THE SITES
To visit rock art sites, contact the office of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (telephone/fax 011-52-61515-40222, www.inah.gob.mx, next to the church in San Ignacio. Open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily Nov. 1-May 1, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday the remainder of the year. (They speak only Spanish at the office.)
There are three levels of permits: With level one, you may not have to make arrangements beforehand, but a local guide must be available. Level two permits include sites in the Canyon de Santa Teresa or Arroyo del Parral, which require a brief trip by mule or on foot. To view level three sites, you must notify INAH six months in advance, and local guides and an INAH guide must go along. These trips take at least five to seven days with full pack arrangements, including one mule and one burro per person. Per-day cost is about $14 for each guide and $11 for each animal. Meals are $10 to $15 per person, depending on the menu. You must include food for the guides. Registration fees are $3.85 to visit the caves (which is waived if you are 60 or older) and $3 per day to use a camera, to be paid at an INAH office.
Amigos de Los Californios, 1831 Lendee Drive, Escondido, CA 92025, (619) 276-8709 (leave a message), a nonprofit group that arranges temporary medical clinics in the Sierra de San Francisco, may know of archeological trips from San Diego. A one-week trip costs $1,000 to $1,200 and includes transportation from San Diego, guides, animals, meals, camping and hotels.
Art and Anthropological Tours, 322 Lewis St., Oakland, CA 94607, (510) 465-5528, fax (510) 763-4431, offers rock art tours worldwide. The company is planning a tour to the Sierra de San Francisco next year.
TO LEARN MORE
Mexican Government Tourism Office, Mexican Consulate, 2401 W. 6th St., 5th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90057; (213) 351-2069, fax (213) 351-2074, www.visit mexico.com.